Video is a logical progression from still images. Sometimes the actions and words of your subjects are more striking than an image frozen in time. I have had many "movie" cameras over the years back in the days of 8mm where you had to wind up your spring motor and turn your film over half way. Then came super 8 which was in a cartridge. It was very expensive for a young person starting out in life, around $10, per 3 minute roll, without benefit of sound. Then you had to purchase a projector, screen and those expensive projection bulbs. When camcorders appeared they were called digital "8", then came Hi-8. The resolution of VHS tape was around 220 lines and Hi-8 increased that to over 400 lines (per something). Most amateurs don't really edit their movies, they somehow just transfer them to another medium for display. I remember when I had my digital 8 I had to analogue the signal over to a VHS video recorder to transfer over the "raw" unedited clips in real time. Editing was performed by cueing the recorder at various points to basically eliminate the unwanted sections. I have had more than one mini-DV tape camcorder which didn't really get a lot of use as editing was a very daunting task to undertake with no one to show you. The best I could do was to transfer the Raw clips over to a DVD through my DVD recorder using a Firewire cable. No titles, no transitions, nothing.
About a year ago I decided that I wanted to mount a camera on my bike for some "rolling" video. I was lucky to have found a waterproof, shock resistant model which used "flash" memory (SDHC). Because of vibration I thought that it would not be prudent to get anything that had a mechanism for recording. This eliminated Hard Drive or DVD models.
Here is a video which I took last year on my return trip from Kelowna on my Suzuki SV650nK4. It was taken with a Panasonic SDR-SW20 on SP (around 6 Mbps). With a 16 Gig SDHC card it can record up to 7-1/2hrs of modified Mpeg4, sort of a modified H.264. It produces .MOD files which require conversion before it can be imported into Windows Movie Maker (WMM)
There are not a lot of options when using WMM. Your video has to be .AVI to import and edit and when you export to YouTube it converts your file to .FLV (Flash video). Also when saving to your computer it automatically downsizes the resolution from 640x480p to 360x240p, then upsizes it to 425x344p which further degrades the video experience. Everything is working against you to produce a sharp video image. In the player (above), I resized the window back to 360x240p to "help" the resolution, smaller appears sharper
I had a goal to use all the freeware/shareware I could muster on the internet to do my videos. Then there was the matter of finding all the codecs necessary for Windows Media Player (WMP) to play them. I notice that FREE codecs are now available, but 2 years ago I had to pay US$30. to purchase a .MOD to .AVI converter. For some reason VLC plays virtually everything and can also recognize 16:9 ratio . I have been working with Dave: Travels with a Honda Transalp to get his camera working and he has produced some excellent video using WMM. I don't know what make of Chinese Camera he has but the video is smooth and sharp which puts mine to shame.
I have changed software. For the past 2 years I have used all the free stuff I could find and was a WMM user but I just got tired of having that "freeze" up all the time. You can't complain to anyone because it came free with your operating system but they are also not upgrading it, nor providing support. I notice from the forums that everyone is having problems with it freezing up. My work around for this is to frequently save. Then when it freezes up all you have to do is to shutdown your computer by holding the power button until it stops, then restart, load WMM and re-open your project. I also found that if you rebooted your computer before starting any project and didn't go back and forth on your timeline too often it worked better. Earlier this year I actually purchased Adobe Premiere Elements 7 but couldn't get it to work, so I just put it on the shelf and forgot about it. When Dave started posting up his beautiful video I got the package out re-installed it and managed to get it working.
WMM has no project settings. You just import an .AVI file and it works. You are limited in your output/sharing options. With Adobe Premiere Elements (PREL) there are presets for every project dependant upon the format of your source video. I locked myself up with my computer for the past 3-4 days and experimented with each preset and found out what makes this program tick. I think there is a problem with importing .MOD files into PREL . I get poor results using the correct presets, and also get poor results saving to .FLV which YouTube prefers.
I also notice a lot of problems with resizing the video. I thought that if I started out with a 640x480p and downsampled to 360x240p that the results would be sharper, but they are much, much worse. I have experimented with most settings and by trial and error discovered which one is the least worse. Notice that I didn't say best.
All of my test videos were taken with my new Canon FS200 in SP which is 6 Mbps. I did one test at XP which is 9 Mbps which I think is test#3. I was trying to economize with storage capacities and don't think they will make much difference as I am setting the streaming output to 2.5 Mbps anyway. All source resolution is 640x480p. Here is the first test clip resized to 360x240p
Forget what the title says, it was set at 360x240p and streaming at 1.5 Mbps . I reduced the player to match the resolution of the output. Whenever you resize anything, .jpg or .avi or .mov you are throwing away original pixels. You have NO control over which pixels are being discarded. They could be adjacent pixels or pixels which affect sharpness. The general rule is to shoot close to the resolution required for the purpose so that if you have to resize down (or up) it would have minimum effect as to your finished project. I got a much better result keeping the output the same as the input (source), but changed the bit rate to reduce file size. Here is test#2
This time I kept the output at 640x480p and increased the player to the same size. It doesn't seem to make any difference but I selected 4:3 ratio this time and the video is streaming at 2.5 Mbps . I think that PREL is having trouble detecting the correct aspect ratio on .MOD files. When I select the wide screen option when starting a project the video is very muddy and barely viewable.
I'm not sure if you are aware but compressed video formats such as H.264 or derivatives have a key frame, and the following frame(s) only contain "changed" information until there is a scene change, in which case there will be another Key frame. If you happen to delete a key frame, then all subsequent frames related to that scene are removed too.
Here is test clip #3. the only difference here is the source video was taken at 9 Mbps and I made a custom preset to output at 4:3 ratio even though the video specs were recognized at 16:9 . The video is streaming at 2.5 Mbps
I love video and the fact that you can experience the thrill of being there. I also think that videos are much better than panoramas as you are more able to view the environment and surroundings. Try it and you make like it too.